Double Dipping in Affiliate Marketing

Posted on5 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management, General Discussion

Double dipping — used in the classic context of a merchant running an affiliate program on two (or more) affiliate networks — is an instance when an affiliate receives their commission twice (or, figuratively speaking, dips his/her cracker into the commission sauce twice): on each of the two (or more) networks. This, naturally, poses a problem for the merchant, as instead of paying the agreed-upon commission rate they are paying twice as much.

In my experience such a problem almost always occurs due to the merchant’s fault. Most frequently, double dipping happens in situations when merchants place both tracking codes (I’ll continue using two networks in my example, even though the number is can be greater than two) into the code of the same “thank you” page. Consequently, if one affiliate is actively promoting the merchant through one affiliate network’s links, while the other one is doing the same through the other network, when a sale happens, both would get the commission. Similarly, if one affiliate is promoting the merchant aggressively through both affiliate networks, it is not unusual for some of the orders they refer to be “dipped” twice as well.

How can a merchant ensure this doesn’t happen? You want to either (i) display a dynamically refreshing tracking code, corresponding to network’s link initially clicked (keep in mind that some networks prohibit this; so read on), or (ii) have two different “thank you” pages, each of which would have only one network’s tracking pixel, and display the one which corresponds to the affiliate network’s link clicked last (i.e. if it were a ShareASale affiliate who referred the client, you would display the “thank you” page with the ShareASale’s tracking pixel, while if it were a CommissionJunction affiliate — display the page that has the CJ’s tacking in the code).

5 thoughts on “Double Dipping in Affiliate Marketing

  1. Geno,

    Good post on the problems associated with running multiple programs. Keep in mind for your readers that ShareASale does require the tracking pixel to be displayed on ALL conversions so neither of your two scenarios would fit into what we consider a compliant pixel placement.

    We do offer the ability to send “tags” to us so that we know not to give commission on a certain conversion – but we believe that an affiliate should be able to see the conversion even if it didn’t result in a commission.

    The reason for this is that all networks have different rules and varying levels of tolerance for Adware, popups, etc… While it is up to the affiliate as to whether or not they want to work with Merchants on multiple platforms, etc… we do believe they have the right to see what is going on.


  2. Brian,

    Thanks for chiming in, and for clarifying that neither of my examples would work for ShareASale-based merchants. I also like the idea of “tags” sent to SaS to keep the system transparent for the affiliates (and the affiliate network).

  3. Geno,
    I just read your last blog post and I have to say that you timing is uncanny to my needs. I am currently managing a program exclusively on SAS and am looking at Avantlink. Could you explain a little further what you mean in the last paragraph regarding the “Thank you page.” Is this the Thank You page shown to a Customer after a purchase, or after an affiliate signs up on the program, ie:Not cross advertising programs? Also since you seem to have a good amount of experience in the matter about what percentage of transaction from a program running multiple networks end up double dipping?

    Thank you for the help!

  4. Jared,

    Thank you for your questions.

    It is the “Thank you” page shown to the customer after their order has been placed (the page on which you have the tracking pixel).

    In my experience, double dipping never happens for long (unless the program is run an an auto pilot), and as soon as the merchant sees it happening, they start looking into the reasons behind it, and seeing how they can fix it.

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